Twelve healthy volunteers were given ibuprofen racemate in two different dosage forms, a suspension and a tablet. The plasma concentration-time profiles of S- and R-ibuprofen were determined and the R-ibuprofen inversion clearance was calculated. Although the area under the curve was almost the same in both the suspension and tablet studies, the inversion clearance was larger in the suspension study than in the tablet study (1.18+/-0.65 and 0.72+/-0.63 l/h, shown as the mean+/-S.D.). The Michaelis-Menten parameters for this inversion process were then determined in vitro with human liver microsomes (1.3+/-0.2 mM for Km and 3.1+/-0.3 nmol/min/mg protein for Vmax, shown as the mean+/-S.D.). These parameters indicated that the stereoisomeric inversion of R-ibuprofen in the liver was not likely to be saturated at the plasma concentrations measured in the volunteer study. The profile of the plasma concentration ratio between S-ibuprofen and R-ibuprofen revealed a difference in the early phase of these two studies. Therefore the inversion difference between those two studies probably resulted from the difference in the absorption phase of each dosage form. Our study demonstrated that R-ibuprofen inversion could be affected by alteration of dosage form.